Showing posts from December, 2015

Lewis becomes one of UCF's all-time top 10 scorers in loss to Gators

JACKSONVILLE, Fla.  – The UCF women’s basketball team took the fight to Florida but the Gators were able to ride out a big third quarter to hang on for a 93-79 win in the American/SEC Challenge at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena on Wednesday night. Meeting for the first time in five years, the Knights led at the end of the first quarter and trailed by just four points at halftime. The Knights found themselves down by as much as 23 in the third quarter but pulled back within 10 points with 5 minutes remaining in the game. Although UCF outscored the Gators by seven in the final period, UF’s 34-17 edge in the third period proved to be the difference maker.  UCF received monster performances from juniors Zykira Lewis and Joslyn Massey. Lewis tallied her third 20-point game of the season with a game-high 28 points and as a result, etched her name among UCF’s career top 10 scoring leaders. Massey recorded a career-high 20 points and game-high 10 rebounds. “Proud of our fight,”

BOWL NOTEBOOK: Nittany Lions. Bulldogs Continue Game Preparations

By MIKE BONTS Jacksonville SportsDay Both Penn State and Georgia continued to prepare for their Saturday meeting in the TaxSlayer Bowl in Jacksonville. Under partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the upper 70s, Georgia resumed practice Monday. The Bulldogs worked out in jerseys, shoulder pads, helmets and shorts on the campus of the University of North Florida. Georgia interim head coach Bryan McClendon confirmed that senior fullback Quayvon Hicks would miss the TaxSlayer Bowl game due to an injury. “Quayvon will not play in the bowl game; he has a lot to look forward to as he moves on, and you hate to see a senior not get to play in his final game because of an injury,” McClendon said. With Hicks out, Georgia’s depth at fullback will consists of sophomore Christian Payne and redshirt sophomore Glenn Welch. Hicks had appeared in all 12 games with three starts.  Payne has played in seven games this year with no starts while Welch has appeared in 11 games

NASL: Armada FC Signs 2015 USL Defender of the Year Burke

JACKSONVILLE, Fla.   ̶  The Jacksonville Armada FC announced on Monday the signing of 2015 USL Defender of the Year Bryan Burke. The 26-year-old fullback from Newport, Calif., arrives in Jacksonville following one season with Louisville City FC where he played a key role at both ends of the field, leading the United Soccer League with 10 assists in 2015, and contributing to a solid defensive effort that saw his team concede 35 goals in 28 regular-season games, a 1.25 GAA. “Brian had an outstanding season last year in the USL with Louisville,” said Tony Meola, Armada FC head coach and technical director. “His work rate up and down the right side and his relentless passion to attack will be exciting to watch as he integrates himself into our group. We are excited to add his quality to our roster for the upcoming season." The Armada will start preseason training in mid-January and play a friendly against MLS’s Philadelphia Union at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 6 in at Community Fi

BOWL NOTES: Nittany Lions Remember First Meeting with Bulldogs

Penn State returns to a Florida bowl for the first time since the 2010 season when the Nittany Lions take on Southeastern Conference foe Georgia in the 71st annual TaxSlayer Bowl. The game will air on ESPN. The Nittany Lions and the Bulldogs were selected for just their second all-time meeting and the 46th all-time bowl appearance for Penn State.  The only other meeting between the teams came in the 1983 Sugar Bowl when the Nittany Lions claimed a 27-23 win over Georgia to claim their first National Championship. That game featured "The Catch," a 48-yard diving touchdown reception by wide receiver Gregg Garrity from Todd Blackledge to give the Lions a 27-17 lead. Garrity's son, also named Gregg, is a student-athlete on the 2015 team. This will be Penn State's fifth appearance in the TaxSlayer Bowl, formerly the Gator Bowl, with the last time coming in 1976 when the Nittany Lions fell to Notre Dame, 20-9. Penn State was 1-2-1 all-time in the Gator Bowl. The Lio

Suns continue building front office staff

The Jacksonville Suns announced their latest front office staffing update, naming four new staff members and three returning staff in new roles. The club is preparing for the 2016 season – its debut under the new ownership of Ken Babby. New to the Suns front office team are Merchandise Manager Brennan Earley, Promotions Manager Devin Jones, Media and Public Relations Manager Marco LaNave and Account Executive Peter Ercey. Returning in new positions are Box Office Manager Theresa Viets, Food and Beverage Manager Tina Gray-Young, and Front Office Coordinator Lorie Tipton. “We are excited to welcome staff with broad experiences from across the country to our front office, while teaming them with talented individuals familiar with the Jacksonville market,” said Suns General Manager Harold Craw. “Their combination of diverse sports backgrounds and connections with this community will be vital to us bringing the best affordable family fun to Northeast Florida.” Brennan Earley joins the

Armada Signs Former Bundesliga and German Cup Champion

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Armada FC continued to build its 2016 roster on Monday with the addition of former Finland Men’s National Team member and Bundesliga champion Pekka Lagerblom (PEK-uh LOG-er-bloom). Lagerblom, a versatile and experienced midfielder, brings more than 10 years of European league experience to the Armada, which includes Bundesliga and German Cup titles in 2004 with Werder Bremen.  A native of Lahti, Finland, he was also a member of the Finland National Team from 2003-06, recording 12 caps. Lagerblom comes to Jacksonville after playing with his hometown club, FC Lahti of the top Finnish division, Viekkausliiga, in 2015. "In Pekka we add more experience to our midfield who has played in one of the biggest leagues in the world and won a title and cup with Werder Breman,” said Armada FC head coach and technical director Tony Meola. “After flying Pekka to Jacksonville to speak face-to-face with him, it became clear that he wanted to be in an

BOWL RECAP: USF Bulls fall to No. 25 Western Kentucky, 45-35

TAMPA -- Season offensive records were shattered as USF put on a show in a 45-35 shootout loss to No. 25 Western Kentucky at the Miami Beach Bowl on Monday afternoon. The Bulls (8-5) exploded for 597 total yards in its impressive postseason return and nearly came back from a 17-point second-half deficit in front of a crowd of 21,712 filled with roaring Green and Gold at Marlins Park. “The future is bright for USF football. There are a lot of guys returning next year,” said head coach Willie Taggart, who signed a three-year extension after bringing the Bulls back to their winning ways with seven victories in their final nine games this season. Miami native Quinton Flowers put on a dazzling performance in his return home, throwing for a career-high 273 yards and a touchdown and rushing for two scores. The sophomore totaled 108 of USF’s 290 yards on the ground and set a new USF quarterback season record with 991 yards rushing, the sixth-best season mark overall, and 12 TD runs. So

NFL GAMEDAY: Falcons kick Jaguars 23-17

By MIKE BONTS JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (FSW) --  Shayne Graham kicked three field goals as the Atlanta Falcons held on for a 23-17 win over Jacksonville Sunday at EverBank Field. Graham kicked a 34-yard field goal as time expired in the first half. The score was set up by a Blake Bortles' interception ran back 84 yards by Kemal Ishmeal. Graham added two in the final quarter. The Falcons, reeling from a 38-0 loss last week to NFC South rival Carolina, had a 17-3 advantage at the half. Bortles scored his second rushing touchdown in as many weeks to cut the visitors lead on the opening drive of the second half. Following a Matt Ryan interception by Paul Posluszny, Allen Robinson caught a 10-yard score from Bortles to tie the game. Posluszny now has three interceptions this season tying Davon House for the club lead. Atlanta's Devonta Freeman scored on a 5-yard run, is 12th touchdown of the season.   Ryan threw an 11-yard TD pass to Julio Jones. Jason Myers

BOWL RECAP: Spartans Rally Past Georgia State 27-16 in Inaugural Cure Bowl

ORLANDO, Fla. – Senior Tyler Ervin rushed for 132 yards and returned a punt for a touchdown as San Jose State rallied to defeat Georgia State 27-16 Saturday in the inaugural AutoNation Cure Bowl presented by Florida Hospital. “We wanted to send our seniors off victoriously in their final game,” San Jose State Head Coach Ron Caragher said. “And it’s so fun to be part of a bowl with a philanthropic type of approach to the game, and giving to such a good cause, really is a blessing. It’s an honor and a privilege to be in this game.” While Ervin did the heavy lifting, it was junior quarterback Kenny Potter who delivered in the clutch for the Spartans (6-7) to earn MVP honors. Just moments after Georgia State (6-7) had taken its only lead of the night, Potter ran for a 42-yard touchdown to put the Spartans back in front for good. Potter then capped the win with a 1-yard TD pass to Josh Oliver with 2:40 left to play for the final margin in front of 18,536 fans at the Orlando Citrus Bo

TAXSLAYER BOWL: Georgia Football Continues Bowl Prep

The Georgia football team continued preparations for the TaxSlayer Bowl against Penn State with a two-hour workout in full pads Friday at the Woodruff Practice Fields. This was the third practice in as many days for the Bulldogs, who will workout in Athens four additional times before reconvening in Jacksonville. “The last three days have been very good,” said interim head coach Bryan McClendon. “There has been a lot of energy, and competition has been going well. The guys are working hard at getting better fundamentally, and they all understand the importance of preparation each day." Earlier in the day, 13 current or former Bulldogs earned their degrees at Georgia’s fall commencement held at Stegeman Coliseum.  The football student-athletes who received their degrees were Patrick Beless, Devin Bowman, Kennar Daniels-Johnson, Cameron Faulkner, Merritt Hall, Hunter Long, Keith Marshall, Chris Mayes, Malcolm Mitchell, Jay Rome, Justin Scott-Wesley, Ben Souther and Rantaviou

NASL: Armada FC Strengthens Backline With Addition of Navarro

The Jacksonville Armada FC announced the signing of defender Beto Navarro. Navarro’s addition to the 2016 roster adds yet another level of experience and continues to showcase head coach and technical director Tony Meola’s commitment to strengthening the backline. "Beto brings us experience in the back,” Meola said. “He is a player who has proven over the last three years that he knows how to win. He comes with a high soccer IQ and lives to play the game. I would describe Beto as a steady and solid professional that fans will appreciate watching in an Armada jersey." A defender with Southern California roots, Navarro comes to Jacksonville after helping lead USL side Orange County Blues to the 2015 Western Conference regular season title. He started 22 matches and logged 1,926 minutes of action.  In 2012, Navarro played with amateur club Cal FC, coached by U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame player Eric Wynalda, and helped lead the team through an improbable run in the U.S. Open

USF NOTEBOOK: Bulls Look to Down JU Dolphins in Sun Dome

TAMPA  – USF will go for its fifth straight win in its series with Jacksonville Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the Sun Dome. The two programs will meet for the 47th time, the third-most played series for the Bulls behind UAB (58) and Charlotte (53). USF leads the all-time series, 25-21, with a 13-7 advantage in Tampa, including last year’s 79-65 win on Nov. 29. USF (2-8) is looking to break a three-game losing skid and also is trying for win No. 600 in program history. The Bulls are 599-693 in 45 years of basketball. Jacksonville (4-6) is coming off an 81-74 loss at South Carolina State on Saturday and will be looking for its second road win of the season. Freshman Jahmal McMurray continues to lead the Bulls in scoring. The Topeka, Kan., native is averaging 12.3 points per game, which ranks 16th in the American Athletic Conference, the second-best among freshmen. He is coming off a game-high 13 points in USF’s latest game, a 65-46 loss to NC State. McMurray has scored in double-figures

COLLEGE HOOPS: Ospreys Stay Unbeaten in UNF Arena with 94-72 Win over FIU

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The North Florida basketball team remained undefeated at home this season following a dominating performance in a 94-72 victory over FIU Monday night in UNF Arena. The Ospreys, who are 5-0 at home this year and extended their current home win streak to 12 games, improved to 8-4 on the season behind a strong second half showing on both ends of the court. UNF shot 51 percent from the floor while holding the Panthers (4-6) to just 39 percent including a 1-for-11 showing from long range in the closing half. UNF had five players reach double digits led by a pair of 20-point scorers. Dallas Moore led the way with 21 points followed by Demarcus Daniels with 20, marking the senior's second straight 20-plus outing. Beau Beech finished with 17 highlighted by four three-pointers in the second half while Trent Mackey hit four treys en route to 13 points and Chris Davenport added 12. North Florida ended the game with 19 assists on 33 baskets and five different player

NFL: Second half surge helps Jaguars throttle Colts, 51-16

By MIKE BONTS FLORIDA SPORTS WIRE JACKSONVILLE, Fla. --   Playing the Andrew Luck-less Colts, Jacksonville routed AFC South rival Indianapolis 51-16 at EverBank Field Sunday. The win set a club regular season record for most points scored. The Jaguars kept their playoff hopes alive with Rashad Greene's 73-yard punt return that competed a 10-point swing and gave Jacksonville a lead they never relinquished. Luck, the Colts' starting QB, is out with abdominal injuries suffered in a victory over Denver. That left it up to veteran backup Matt Hasselbeck who led the Colts to a 16-13 OT win over the Jaguars in October. Trailing 16-13 entering the second half, Jaguars' QB Blake Bortles threw an 80-yard TD pass to Allen Hurns. Later he would add a four yard score to Allen Robinson.  Bortles had a record setting day with threeTD passes including tight end Julius Thomas' fifth of the season and scored on a one-yard run..  Adam  Vinatiera's 32-yard field goal was

AFL: Sharks Announce 2016 Schedule

JACKSONVILLE – The Arena Football League’s 2015 American Conference Champions Jacksonville Sharks announced the team’s 2016 schedule on Thursday.  This year marks the 29th season of the AFL and the 7th season for the Sharks since they joined the league in 2010. The 2016 schedule fits an April to August window allowing fans to experience football year-round with a new post season format that will result in 4 teams hosting an additional home game.  The Sharks will begin the 2016 season on the road against the Los Angeles KISS Saturday, April 2nd, with the Sharks’ home opener set for Friday, April 15th against in-state rival, the Orlando Predators. The Sharks last appearance against Orlando ended with the Sharks defeating the Predators 55-33 to advance to the American Conference Championship. The season opener against Los Angeles is part of a two-game road trip that will also involve the Philadelphia Soul before the Sharks reach the highly anticipated home match-up against Orlando.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Four Game Home Stand Tips Off Saturday for Ospreys

JACKSONVILLE -- The North Florida basketball team opens up a season-long four game home stand Saturday as the Ospreys welcome Coastal Georgia to UNF Arena at 7 p.m. The Ospreys return to the hardwood following a week off from competition for fall semester exams. UNF enters the game at 6-4 and looking to snap a two-game losing skid after dropping games at LSU and Dayton last week. North Florida is carrying a 10-game win streak at home into the contest. Junior Dallas Moore leads a group of five players in double digits averaging an Atlantic Sun leading 20.8 points per game this season. Senior Beau Beech averages 16.4 points per game and is coming off a week where he averaged making 5.7 three-pointers per game. Other double-digit scorers for UNF include seniors Trent Mackey (12.7), and Demarcus Daniels (11.4) along with junior Chris Davenport (11.3). Coastal Georgia enters the contest at 4-7 after losing their last five games including an 89-87 loss to Edward Waters in their last

COLLEGE BOWL NEWS: Taggart To Cover Miami Beach Bowl Ticket Price

Willie Taggart TAMPA, Fla.  – The USF student section was a big part of the Bulls posting a 5-1 home record, equaling their best in 13 years, and Head Coach Willie Taggart wants to bring that energy to the Miami Beach Bowl. The third-year head coach of the Bulls will cover the ticket costs for 500 USF students to attend the Bulls’ first bowl game in five seasons on Monday, Dec. 21 at Marlins Park in Miami.  The first 500 USF students to purchase a bowl game ticket, including those already purchased, will have the $20 cost of that ticket reimbursed after attending the bowl game by Taggart.  “I just want to say thank you to all the USF students that made Ray Jay rock this season and I can’t wait to see them all in Miami and turn Marlins Park into Ray Jay South,” Taggart said. “The students are a huge part of our success and we want them to come down and get No. 9 with us.  The Bulls (8-4) will take on Taggart’s alma mater and No. 25-ranked Western Kentucky (11-2), wi

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Campbell helps lead Saints past Eagles, 60-48

DAYTONA BEACH – DeAsha Campbell’s career-high 21 points helped Flagler College rally past Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, 60-48, in a non-conference women’s basketball game Friday morning on “Education Day” at the ICI Center. Flagler extended its winning streak to three games and improved to 4-1 overall. Embry-Riddle, who is reclassifying to NCAA Division II, suffered its third consecutive loss and fell to 3-5. The Saints out-scored the Eagles 13-3 in the third quarter to pull away from a tie score at the half (28-28). Flagler held Embry-Riddle to one field goal (1-13) in the quarter and the Eagles missed all five free throw attempts.  Embry-Riddle held a 17-13 lead at the end of the first quarter.  Flagler forced 24 Embry-Riddle turnovers in the entire game and converted those into 20 points. Campbell tallied 14 of her 21 points in the first and fourth quarters (seven points in each). Campbell sank 10-of-12 free throws. Tiffany Hodge added nine points and grabbed a ga

USF Basketball to Celebrate Hispanic Community Sunday

FLORIDA SPORTS WIRE In a celebration of the Bay Area and USF Hispanic community, USF’s men’s and women’s basketball teams will wear special uniforms for the doubleheader on Sunday at the Sun Dome. White uniforms with the words “Los Toros” written in green will be worn by the women’s team in their noon game against Chattanooga and by the men’s team in their 4 p.m. game against NC State. The theme for the doubleheader is Uniendo Los Toros, which in English reads, Uniting The Bulls, a play on USF’s theme Bulls Unite. It will be a celebration and recognition of community and campus members that have had a significant impact in the Hispanic community.  Among the recognitions will be the Status of Latinos Committee on campus and the Mayor’s Hispanic Advisory Council in Tampa. USF is the only NCAA Division I school with a Hispanic-American leading both its men’s and women’s basketball program.  Orlando Antigua, born in the Dominican Republic, is one of only three Hispanic head coach

COLLEGE BOWL NEWS: Georgia, Penn State to meet in TaxSlayer Bowl

By MIKE BONTS COLLEGE BOWL NEWS Heather Duncan, chairwoman of the TaxSlayer Bowl, announced Sunday that Penn State will play Georgia in the 2016 edition on Jan. 2. The Nittany Lions and the Bulldogs were selected for just their second all-time meeting. The only other meeting between the teams came in the 1983 Sugar Bowl when the Nittany Lions claimed a 27-23 win over Georgia to claim their first National Championship. That game featured "The Catch," a 48-yard diving touchdown reception by wide receiver Gregg Garrity from Todd Blackledge to give the Lions a 27-17 lead. "This is an exciting opportunity for our team and especially our seniors in a great facility and warm weather city," said Georgia interim head coach Bryan McClendon. "It will be a chance to record another ten-win season and we're looking forward to playing Penn State which is one of the iconic brands in college football. They are very rich in tradition and have had a success

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: McElwain Named 2015 SEC Coach of the Year

Jim McElwain University of Florida head football coach Jim McElwain has been named the 2015 SEC Coach of the year, the league announced on Wednesday afternoon. In earning his first SEC Coach of the Year honor, McElwain has guided the Florida Gators to a 10-3 record and their first SEC East Division Title since 2009. McElwain is only the third first-year coach in SEC history to reach the SEC Championship game, joining LSU's Les Miles (2005) and Auburn's Gus Malzhan (2013). The former head coach at Colorado State took over the program in January after the Gators had finished 11-13 the past two years and led the Gators back into the national spotlight behind a superb defensive unit.  McElwain is the first UF coach to earn the honor since Will Muschamp in 2012. The Gator football program has had six coaches win the award in its history. McElwain and the Florida Gators continue their season at the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl on Jan. 1. The Gators will face the Michiga

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Ian Shields named JU football coach

By MIKE BONTS JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -Former Lenoir-Rhyne head football coach Ian Shields has been named new head coach at JU. At Lenoir-Rhyne he compiled a 17-6 record, won a conference championship, was named the South Atlantic Conference Coach of the Year, and twice had his offense lead the nation in rushing. This past season, the Bears finished 6-5 (5-5), had six players named All-Conference, and saw All-American offensive lineman Joe Ray named a finalist for the Gene Upshaw Trophy as the top lineman in Division II. Ray also won the Jacobs Trophy as the top lineman in the South Atlantic Conference. In his first year, the Bears finished with an 11-1 record and were 7-0 in conference play. The Bears also won a fourth straight league title, earned the top seed in Super Region No. 2 for the second straight season and garnered a No. 8 final national ranking in the AFCA NCAA Division II Coaches Poll. During the season, the Bears were ranked as high as third in the country . Shields j

COLLEGE BOWL NEWS: Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl Approaches Sellout

MIKE BONTS ORLANDO, Fla. – Just over 24 hours after announcing its 2016 matchup, the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl is nearing a sellout. At the time of this release, only single tickets remain available. To accommodate the additional demand, Florida Citrus Sports is adding additional seating on the Plaza Deck of the north end zone of the Orlando Citrus Bowl Stadium. Ticket sales for this area will go on sale tomorrow morning (Tuesday), by 9:00 a.m. through Ticketmaster. Once sold, this will mark the second-fastest sellout in bowl history and the first for a college football game in the new stadium. In addition to its success selling Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl tickets, Florida Citrus Sports’ other bowl game – the Russell Athletic Bowl – is selling at a brisk pace, having already sold over 2,000 tickets more than last year’s game. Fans can still purchase tickets to the game between Baylor and North Carolina by calling Ticketmaster or ordering online ( Gr

COLLEGE BOWL NEWS: Tennessee Headed Back To Outback Bowl

MIKE BONTS The University of Tennessee football team is headed to the 30th annual Outback Bowl in Tampa, Florida as the Vols accepted an invitation to play the Northwestern Wildcats on Friday, Jan. 1, 2016. The game will kickoff at 12 Noon ET and air on ESPN2 live from Raymond James Stadium.  “We are extremely excited about the opportunity to be selected to play in the Outback Bowl on New Year’s Day,” said Vice Chancellor/Director of Athletics Dave Hart. "I hope our fans are energized and as excited about this announcement as our team is.  We have the most loyal fan base in the country and there’s no doubt we will have plenty of Tennessee orange in Tampa.   The Outback Bowl has a long, storied history of exciting games and Jim McVay and the Tampa Bay Bowl Association do a great job hosting the event each year.   “Butch Jones has our football program moving in the right direction, and playing in back-to-back New Year’s bowl games in Florida is further verification of the prog